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Partnerships that Empower: The Collaborations Behind KW Career Compass

At KW Career Compass (KWCC), we are proud of the partnerships we have created with many inclusive and open-minded employers in our region. Below, we highlight two companies we have connected with – Old Navy and Onward Manufacturing – whose commitment to hiring people with disabilities not only promotes diversity and equality, but also fosters a workplace culture that values unique talents and perspectives. 

Old Navy 

Dustin an employee at Old Navy supported through KWCC Katie an employee at Old Navy supported through KWCC Katie an employee at Old Navy supported through KWCC Katie an employee at Old Navy supported through KWCC

Old Navy (who’s parent company is Gap Inc.) was established in 1994. It’s first store opened in Colma California in March 1994, and expanded to Canada in 2001. There are now over 1200 stores in North America making it one of the largest apparel brands in the world. For over 18 years, Old Navy has provided quality retail experience and employment opportunities for the people we support at KWCC.

There are 2 Old Navy stores in the KW region, and both locations have hired people supported through KWCC. This partnership continues to this day! The Old Navy in the Sunrise Centre hired their first KWCC job seeker in October 2006 and that employee is still with them today! Since then, they have also employed an additional 4 people with 2 people still currently employed there. The Old Navy in Conestoga Mall hired their first KWCC  job seeker in Sept 2011 and have hired 8 additional people since then with 4 people still currently employed there. Both stores have hired for various roles such as Logistics, Shipping/Receiving, Facilities and Brand Associate, with a focus on aligning these positions with individuals’ interests and strengths.

According to one of the managers of the Conestoga Mall location, they consider KWCC an “extension of our Human Resources Department because they send qualified candidates who can do the job required and they pre-screen candidates through their extensive skills evaluations and work samplings.” The manager also emphasized, “the employee typically ends up staying with the company for a long period of time which in the end helps our bottom line as we aren’t spending additional money having to re-hire and train someone new. They set an amazing example to all of our staff due to their work ethic and productivity”.

KWCC’s partnership with Old Navy is a meaningful collaboration that has stood the test of time and represents the positive impact of inclusive employment practices.

Onward Manufacturing

Dannie an employee at Onward Manufacturing supported through KWCC An employee at Onward Manufacturing supported through KWCC Faris an employee at Onward Manufacturing supported through KWCC

Onward Manufacturing, established in 1906, produces gas barbecue grills in Canada and the United States. They sell products under the Broil King, Broil Mate, Sterling and Huntington Brands throughout North America and to 40 countries worldwide. In Canada, Onward Manufacturing has 400 total employees across all its locations in North America and has two facilities located in the Kitchener/ Waterloo area.

Onward Manufacturing’s first hire connected to KWCC was in 2005 and since then, they have successfully hired 6 more people. Four of them are still working there (including the first hire from 2005) and three have moved on to pursue different career paths. 

According to the plant manager of the distribution center, their initial “out of the box” approach in hiring people with disabilities has become a “business as usual” approach with a proven track record of success. When asked about their inclusive hiring practices, Onward Manufacturing said, “This isn’t for charity, this is simply good business sense and a win-win for all involved”. Onward views KWCC as a key partner in their hiring process and at times KWCC has been the first contact for jobs that need to be filled.

Overall, employees supported through KWCC have seamlessly integrated into the workforce which stands as a testament to the positive impact of fostering a diverse and supportive work environment. We are proud to share that these partnerships have been effective in enriching the overall success of both the employees and the organization. 

If you are a job seeker interested in finding employment or an employer looking to expand the diversity of your team, be sure to check out KW Career Compass (KWCC) for more information!